Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wildlife under Threat ?

For some time now I have noticed Local Councillors, and officials with clip boards discussing and looking at the riverside area between the Road bridge and Merryton bridge. I understand this is to be “cleaned up and managed”. If this entails the stopping of old sewers leaking into the river in this area and removal of litter and alien plant species, plus some broken old trees, that’s fine. If however this entails manicuring the entire area, and allowing easy access to people and dogs then this could be highly detrimental to the local wildlife!
The Island strip in the middle of this part of the river, serves as a retreat and haven for waterbirds such as Ducks Mergansers, Moorhen and Heron. The dense riverbank is also used by a myriad of small birds throughout the winter months, such as Goldfinch, Bullfinch Chaffinch, as well as more common species such as Blackbirds Doves and Robin. After spending the last eight years and around £1000 a year encouraging the wildlife to proliferate and winter on the lower river, I feel I have earned the privilege to protect them. The one thing I am absolutely certain about, is that the more people and dogs are allowed close onto the riverbank, then the more the wildlife will be disturbed and disappear!
This is a tidal area and provides over wintering for many water birds. The impact of people and dogs are always detrimental to wildlife in some form or another. An example of how the council through ignorance can have a negative impact on wildlife, could be seen earlier this summer when the vegetation along the riverside at the seaman’s hall was cut away, destroying small bird habitat and allowing dogs easy access to young cygnets that use this area! No one has yet owned up to authorising this, although it was Council employees who cut it.
It is also common knowledge that our resident Pen was almost killed two years ago by a dog, yet when I asked the council for a few signs to be put up around this area pointing out dog owners responsibilities, it was refused! I would like to remind the council that people are only responsible if they are constantly educated and urged to be responsible, I have spent years taking flak because I have urged responsible dog ownership and care of the wildlife.
This not only includes conforming to The Scottish outdoor access code on dogs, but also on the outcry over dog mess littering the riverside paths!
Some responsible dog signs should be put around the lower riverside, at least to accommodate the large amount of tourists that bring their dogs to Nairn caravan site. Many are ignorant of our local wildlife and allow their dogs total freedom to run wild. When are our Councillors going to start behaving responsibly themselves, and start taking notice of what the law abiding public want ? We don’t want dogs mess all over the place, and we don’t want the wildlife attacked and killed by uncontrolled dogs either!
There are already unofficial pathways all along the riverside from the road bridge upriver, we do not want dogs bounding into the river below the road bridge as well, scaring the wildlife away !
We want a clean safe river environment, and a habitat that is safe for the wildlife that we all want to see, all the year round for generations to come. In conclusion I urge the Councils to be mindful of the impact of their actions, and balance the needs of the environment and wildlife with that of human distraction, interference and vote garnering. ( A copy of this comment has been passed to regional and Community councillors ).

Six of the Best

Having taken thousands of Photo's over the years of the Swans and river wildlife, there's maybe only one in a hundred that have something that really appeals to me. Most of it is down to being in the right place at the right time, some good luck and maybe light conditions are also just right. In my case it's not just the photo, but the subject and what they might be doing at the time that appeals. I have discounted the cygnets but here are 6 pics that are special to me.
My first go at a movie with the Nairn swans compilation is also special to me, can be seen here:

Monday, 28 November 2011

Mallard Decline

I see on the RSPB website that there has been a dramatic decline of 46% in wintering Mallards since 1982. The report published by a coalition of conservation organisations gives figures and trends for Scotland and the UK. Details can be seen here :

So much for some people who have remarked that the river has "heaps of ducks!" From my own observations in recent years the local ducks have been decimated by predation from allsorts, like Mink, seagulls, Hoodie crows, dogs, and humans, not to mention the effects of climate change! Certainly this year many adults that went up river to nest never returned, which took me by surprise. Fostering and caring for these lovable waterbirds will continue, and locals should keep an eye out for their welfare.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Moose wi nae Hoose !

To avoid any misunderstanding with my North American friends, A Moose in Scotland - is a Mouse in English English ! Today the high tide and river spate, flooded the river walls which contain some homes of Mice. This wee moose had a lucky escape and swam for it's life after being flooded out, it eventually found refuge in a floating thicket of twigs. Every time I see a moose I always remember that they were the one species that survived the extinction of the dinosaurs, and are actually related to our ancestors ! Lang may yer Lum reek !

For anyone who missed my Nairn Swans Compilation here is the link to Youtube :

The Cygnet and the Seal

A Combination of High tide, low pressure and river spate ensured that the river breached the banks at the estuary today. The estimated tide was 4.6 metres which was not out of the ordinary for a spring tide, it could have been much higher. It is the highest I have seen at this time of year, after the long dry spell it will help the Spawning Salmon get up the tributaries. The Seal was very much on the prowl for any passing Salmon, and at one point perhaps contemplating a bit of cygnet ! It had a definite close look and the cygnet was keeping a very wary eye on the river predator, with Mum and Dad at a safe distance.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Blind Gull Treated

As a keen photographer and wildlife observer my eyesight is pretty important. How much more to a bird ? A couple of weeks ago I noticed a young gull that appeared to be blind in one eye, from the pics I took it looked as though it might have been pecked by another gull. Anyway it was sad to see it being knocked over by another gull attacking from the blind side. It was impossible to catch the bird because it can fly perfectly well, so I studied the pics and decided to give it a course of antibiotics since the eye seemed to be infected. After a weeks course, the infection appears to be going and I am hoping that it may even get some sight returning to the eye. It was difficult to administer the dose soaked in bread because it had to be thrown just in front to the left of the bird so it could see it ! I failed a couple of times because it landed beyond it's line of sight and was taken by other gulls. Ah well, I cant win them all, but the pics show that it is getting better . I think it knows I'm doing it good, because it shows up just yards from me when I go to the river. It no longer gets attacked by other gulls because it looks normal, although I think it may only have very slight peripheral sight in it's right eye,
if at all . Maybe it will learn to adapt and compensate.

Friday, 25 November 2011


Happiness is coming to Nairn in the New Year by way of a one night only showing of "HAPPY" the movie. I have arranged a Showing for around mid January, exact details will be published later. I envisage the entry cost by way of a minimum donation of £5 for adults and half price for under 18s.

From what I hear It’s a fantastic, inspiring film and we’re really keen for it to be seen
as widely as possible. It moved people to tears and applause at the inaugural screening.

Action for Happiness is part of The Young Foundation (Registered Charity 274345)

Does money make you happy? What about
family? Do we live in a world that values and
promotes well-being? Are we in the midst of a
happiness revolution?
Roko Belic, director of the Academy Award
nominated "Genghis Blues" brings us Happy, a film
that sets out to answer these questions and more.
Taking us from the bayous of Louisiana to the
deserts of Namibia, from the beaches of Brazil to the
villages of Okinawa, Happy explores the secrets
behind our most valued emotion.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

More NO NO'S

I came across more stupidity last weekend in the form of broken glass on the river bed. This is extremely dangerous to the wildlife, especially the Swans with their large webbed feet. The tissue on their feet is full of blood vessels, and can be cut just as easily as a dogs paw or our feet !

Please keep an eye out for these idiots and haul them up, or report them. I have gone down into the river bed several times to remove shattered glass and splinters which could be ingested by the Swans or ducks. Feeding the swans and ducks Mouldy white bread is also a No No - mouldy bread of any kind is poisonous to swans and ducks - DON'T DO IT !! Again whole slices of mouldy bread dumped into the river at merryton this week. If you want to help feed the river Wildlife , then either buy Wholewheat grain or give a donation to me and I will guarantee the Swans and ducks will get the full benefit of it .

A MESSAGE FOR Mr SS - you are overdoing the Carrots and wheat (Pic above). The carrots are sliced ok but too large for the Swans to eat, anything bigger than a 2P piece has to be broken in half. In addition you are dumping it in a heap and in the wrong place ! Dumping it amongst dead leaves and pine needles does not suit the wildlife. (pine needles get stuck in their throats )Better to spread it around the middle pillars from the merryton bridge, that way the Swans and ducks will get it even as the tide goes out. Try to avoid spilling it all over the path as well. I know you mean well, but please take advice from years of experience.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Goosander with Attitude

Our Male Goosander is still knocking about the river, and is happy among the ducks and drakes.

He showed another side to his character today, and threatens a herring gull that gets too close for comfort. Another photo opportunity today and I thought I would try the 720p movie format too, since the goosander was in a performing mood. ( see video below ) The close up shows that hooked bill clearly, ideal for catching small fish !

Youtube Nairn Swans Compilation Link:

Monday, 21 November 2011

Line Dancing Cygnets

This must be the best November weather I can ever remember, the Sun was really warm and after 3 weeks it has surely shortened the Winter. Today it was a pleasure to watch the whole Swan family having a bathing session, at times the whole lot thrashing the water together. These baths help keep the feathers waterproof and in good condition, and get rid of any parasites too.

If you missed a chance to View my Nairn Swans Compilation on Youtube here is the link again

Sunday, 20 November 2011

New Arrivals

Been fascinating weekend on the river and several new happenings for me. First of all I saw a Pintail duck for the first time on the river, quite rare going about the business of searching for food.

It was a male but I could not spot any mate. The good weather seems to have got the Herring gulls bonding as well, with two pairing up and trying to outdo each other in the nest gathering stakes ! Our annual visitor the Moorhen also arrived last week. The next new experience for me was a male Goosander wanting in on the feeding action at the merryton bridge. He was intrigued by the melee of mallards getting their daily wheat ration yesterday, and frustrated by the fact that they were all getting stuck into something - he just couldn't figure out what ! He was only feet away which was extremely unusual, Goosanders usually keep their distance from humans but I think the fact that the ducks were ignoring me, helped him do the same. Sensing his frustration , I tossed a lump of wholemeal near him and he dived at it immediately devouring it instantly, I followed this with several more pieces and he treated it as jumping fish. Never have I seen a Goosander behave in such a way before. Today unperturbed by the cygnets, he turned up giving me close looks and waiting for some food again, so much for birds being stupid and bird brained ! Enclosed video of today's close Goosander action.

If you missed a chance to View my Nairn Swans Compilation on Youtube here is the link again

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Nairn Swans Compilation.

Thought I would try my hand at a short Movie using windows movie maker. I have strung together vids and images lasting about 7 minutes. I uploaded it to Youtube for it's too long for Blogger. A special mention to turn up your sound and listen to my Grand daughter Beth, she was only 12 years old when she made the recording you will hear on the film. Enjoy !!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Mistical Island

Heavy Highland Mist shrouded the river today, adding a mystical quality to the swans island. The ghostly silhouette's of the Swans filtering through the mist - For a brief moment it looked like the sun would break through, and I managed to take a few pics. The mist acted as a filter and some rather nice effects came through.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

River Rat

Thought I had trapped another Mink today, only to discover it was a river rat that had triggered the trap. Rats on the river are part of the river wildlife, In a way I was relieved it was not a mink, and I suppose the presence of a rat indicates that there are no mink about the moment ! Gave me a chance to try out the built in flash on the new camera.